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Conflict and Debate

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#1 status - Rufus Tullius

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 12:39 PM

The Hidden Values of Debate

Creating nuanced proposals designed to remedy causes for a desired effect.

The point of departure between two sides engaged in an interaction. Point of stasis is understanding where agreement and disagreement begin and ends. All division of sides requires the ability to determine where there is agreement and to focus on areas of disagreement. Distilling key questions on either side of the resolution is the point.

No such thing as a bad idea? Well, let's take a look at that. Traditional brainstorming sessions and engagement is supposed to generate more ideas by offering the opportunity to bring up up ideas without any criticism. Free form brainstorming without debate is not as effective. Criticizing ideas is key in determining focus areas. Free form brainstorming without any format of debate offers too many avenues of diversion. Key focus points can be missed without critical thinking applied. Formal debate in brainstorming session does stimulate the process for finding better ideas.

In order for everyone to understand the value of critical thinking all must know the tools used in the art of argumentation as well as debate.

Debate offers a framework for focus on all points of agreement and disagreement. It helps participants discern key questions of controversy. Only when you assess the values within a pro and con list do you start to make a real decision. Nuances appear when one begins to look for the best reasons in a position. What is the most important value for an argument? Are there complimentary values you can attach to it? Also, look for competing values to reduce potential objections.

Studying the potential interactions of ideas and understanding the underlying values in a controversy is the goal here. Listing ideas from a brainstorm session works best when criticism is applied. Weighing and balancing all factors

Debate offers a means of formalized argumentation by providing propositions using evidence, countering fallacies, arguing and building your affirmations and negatives. Cross-examining and asking/answering leading questions, asking open-ended questions, time for rebuttal, flipping warrants, concessions, and line by line refutations. These techniques and a lot more are what is required to artfully make an informed decision.



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Posted 14 November 2019 - 01:00 PM

Also, consider the audience. Formal debate is made for them most of all. Convincing one side or the other one thing, but the real proof lies within the audience. They're the ones who will ultimately buy what is being sold. Consider the formality of the courtroom. The jury is the ultimate audience. Convince the audience and you win the game. Creating a convincing perception for the audience to consume takes great argumentation skills.

But, there's more...

Formal debate is a type of theatre. Presentation and narrative control are key.

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#3 status - Rufus Tullius

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 01:12 PM

Evidence, logic, and well constructed argument. High speed argumentation and straight competition is not the way to debate. Debate is supposed to be a means of refining and testing ideas.

When should debate be used? First, let's look a the the conditions needed.

- Agreement about the structure.
- Agreement over the proposition
- Agreement of the judges.

Some people just like to argue for arguments sake.

Epideictic Rhetoric - used for special occasions. Eulogies, speeches, parties, weddings, etc., any rhetorical event that marks an important occasion.

Forensic Rhetoric involved fierce argument. The goal for this type of debate is to render a judgment on an issue. Asking historical questions like what happened in the past and was it a good or bad thing. This type of debate picks apart the history of an issue.

Deliberative Rhetoric - Focus on the future. This involves how to proceed in solving a problem. It's possible to argue about any value or proposition. Deliberative Rhetoric always seeks to find a way forward. To offer solutions and make decisions is the overall goal. The idea here is to focus on deliberative rhetoric to stop a person from derailing the process by assuming the contrarian position. Some people just like to see the world burn.

This is known as shifting deliberative debate into a forensic rhetorical event. Perhaps, forcing a judgement on an issue prematurely. Shifting the point of stasis deliberately into a non sequitur is a common technique designed to anger the audience. Further inflaming the situation.  

Is any controversy deliberative or not? If it is, then debate may be a good process for making a decision.

Do the stakes of the decision merit the investment of resources necessary for debate?

There is a danger of creating decision fatigue by drawing out the process. This can be done on purpose to stifle a decision. This has the effect of wearing down the opponent.

Emotions help to make memory stick. Our best memories come from our emotions. Remember, human beings like to color memory with rhetorical fancy.


This always involves our beliefs, motivations, and reasons for decision.


These are built with emotional connections to certain brands, certain behaviors, and certain tastes.

Debate should be used for deliberative decisions affecting our personal or professional lives that go beyond routine; decisions that truly impact the future. Using debate for small choices or issues can get tiresome.

What are the conditions necessary to change an argument into a quality debate?

Debating requires a formal structure to function. All parties involved agree on a set of rules. All participants should have an equal amount of time without interruption for presenting a case and point. This includes the responses. Give and take equally is important. A good tactic for a moderator to use if one side should interrupt would be to tack on more time for the interrupted party to continue. Formalizing arguments enhances the best parts of argumentation while at the same time reducing the messiness of interruptions. Inviting too much agression and emotion into the content, while entertaining, does distort the decision making process. Letting debaters talk over each other dilutes the quality. This results in attacking the opponent instead of the issue at hand.



Debate works because it uses the power of dialectics to put arguments in contest with each other. The best affirmatives and negatives available. Bashing each other with data, reasoning, warrants, claims, and qualifiers. A magnificent show indeed! The best arguments are the result of a more refined, nuanced and better reasoned approach.

It works best when all participants, including the audience or the organization, know the dialectics of argumentation as well as the rules of debate. A good debate should result in all participants to go one step or more further in the analysis and research. Taking the time to actually learn more of a subject and learning what the key issues are. The process of debating allows all sides to be heard equally



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#4 status - the sock boxer

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 01:23 PM

:chuckle: :chuckle: :chuckle:



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#5 Feathers


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Posted 14 November 2019 - 01:27 PM

:Laughing-rolf: :Laughing-rolf: :Laughing-rolf:


A Punch and Judy show?



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#6 status - Byrd

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 01:29 PM






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#7 status - The Full Monty

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 01:43 PM

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#8 status - Rufus Tullius

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 01:50 PM

The Proposition - Choosing what to debate about.

Good debate requires some agreement on the structure of an argument. Providing contrary retorts to everything is redundant. Well prepared opponents are a requirement for any formalized debate.

A deliberative argument outlines a controversy. Is there an agreement on what problems should be discussed? Finding consensus on a real problem is the goal. Most problems occur when preventative measures are used instead of deciding on what the problem is and solving it. A proposition is establishing that there is something wrong and it needs to be addressed. Is the proposition important enough to debate about? Instead of looking at the proposition as a policy recommendation; look at it as an issue of debate. Propositions should be simple, direct, and non-advocating for a particular solution. Present a fact and decide on its relevance. Making generalizations and rushing to judgement before the facts are in is a common ploy used to dissuade a proposition.

Is there an actual controversy?
If so, is there an immediate action required?
Do you need to use the proposition to determine a timeline for action?
Who has the authority to act on the controversy?
What agent of authority are you trying to influence with a proposition?


Authoritative agents can limit the scope of potential recommendations. Focusing resolutions on the key agent in the ladder of authority is key. Agents have the ability to limit the scope of opportunity and the costs involved in a decision. Agents limit potential advantages and disadvantages for discussion.

Opportunity cost - It's important to know what one has to give up to implement a proposal.

The authoritative agent is the audience to keep in mind when presenting a proposition. The translation of the profit from the value is what the authoritative agent is most interested in.

Propositions determine the controversy, when it should be debated, and decide who the real authoritative agent should be.

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#9 status - Guest

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 01:59 PM

Holacracy vs Hierarchy and the tale of too many chiefs



I stumbled across the concept of Holacracies, also known as decentralised organisational models, which more or less flatten the team structure instead of stacking it in a traditional hierarchical form.

Such structures are touted as “self-organised” and “self-managed”, meaning that authoritative figures are very hands off, micro-managing is eliminated, and each individual team member is responsible for getting shit done on their own terms and really own their role.

At least that’s my interpretation. Maybe I am totally wrong?

This was a very fascinating concept to me. I wanted to give it a go, as I have personally never been a fan of having a boss, or being told what to do on a daily basis. To me it feels like my free will is being taken away.

I wanted everyone in our team to feel like they had a purpose, and a say in each conversation and decision, instead of just being dictated all the time.

In theory this is a very appealing concept, but in our case it held us back dramatically, and ended in a less than ideal manner.

Here’s my thoughts on the key issues that caused this experiment to fail.
1. Too many CxOs

As the saying goes, “Too many chiefs and not enough indians”. That is to say, too many high-level roles deciding what to do, and not enough people actually doing real work.

The image below sums it up quite well.


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#10 status - Rikki Tikki Tavi

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 02:13 PM

:Laughing-rolf: :Laughing-rolf: :Laughing-rolf:


A Punch and Judy show?







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